Doc Sarah's Motorcycle Pages
The ultimate - Yamaha R1
After the success with the Thundercat, I was less concerned about having a bike lowered, and now felt I should buy the bike I really wanted and have it lowered, rather than making do with dull bikes, old designs, customs and 400cc bikes. When the 2002 R1 came out, I was absolutely in love. What a beautiful bike. The Thundercat was comfortable, quick enough and stable. But it was also rather a heavy bike for me at 5 ft 2 inches and only 110lbs. After trying out the riding position on a whole series of new bikes, I decided the R1 was for me. Being short, some bikes have rather a long reach to the bars for somebody with short arms. This was the problem with the R6, ZX6R, Fireblade, CBR600 and others. The R1 seat is closer to the bars and the tank is small and slim, making it ideal for somebody like me. The riding position is not so radical as on the Fireblade, R6, GSXR600/1000 and ZX6R, and a combination of this and the nice tank shape mean that I don't actually have a lot of weight on my wrists all the time when riding. Since I have to do everything on this bike (from commuting to track days), comfort is a big consideration, and the R1 rather surprisingly fitted the bill.
The next thing was to get it lowered. Chris at Biketec in Tamworth, modified the lower suspension linkage again in order to lower the bike by 1.5 inches. Even with this, I can only just get my toes down, but it doesn't matter because the bike is so light and well balanced it doesn't ever feel like toppling over. He also lowered the front to suit. The result is a bike that I think looks better than the original. Standing next to the NC30, it is the same size, but inside is lurking a lot more horsepower. It combines the lightness and quick steering of the NC30 with the stability of the Thundercat. It isn't quite as light steering as the 400, but then it has a 190 section rear tyre. And it is much easier to steer than the Thundercat. However it copes better with uneven road surfaces than the NC30. It has enormous amounts of power available. However it is never intimidating and because you sit well over the front of the bike, you feel like you are in charge, rather than being pulled along by the bike. The handling is so good, I've already been going round familiar bends at speeds well in excess of those on previous bikes. And I've reached the edge of the tyre without scraping anything down - I have scraped footpegs on track days, but then I'm really travelling quite quickly, and everybody else seems to be scraping something at those speeds. Indeed, I've learned to get my knee down on this bike like no other.
The original screen is too low, and I replaced it almost immediately with a double-bubble screen. In original configuration the wind was tugging my helmet off - the replacement is much better for all speeds up to 90mph.